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Mariah's avatar

With art, what value should be placed on the methodology used (see details)?

Asked by Mariah (25876points) August 1st, 2011

Assuming it doesn’t affect the end result, how much should it matter if the artist takes some shortcuts? Is there any inherent value in knowing the artist put in full effort?

Consider, as a hypothetical example, two identical looking wood carvings. In one, the artist whittled away the wood little by little with a knife, the traditional way. In another, the artist used a jig saw to form the basic shape and then carved out the details with a knife. Do these two sculptures have different inherent values to you?

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16 Answers

Mariah's avatar

For some reason, I feel that knowing the artist put in full effort has value. I can’t tell you why, it’s possibly a waste of the artist’s time if she can produce the same results faster with another method. I can’t come up with a logical reason why it matters to me; maybe art is just one of those things you shouldn’t try to apply logic to.

Plus I may have started off with a false premise: an artist using lazy methodology will probably never be able to produce the same quality work as a meticulous artist.

poisonedantidote's avatar

To me art is effort, so it’s very important. To me, a lamen regarding art, I go for realism and photo quality detail every time.

Cruiser's avatar

I would much rather have the tip of a few feathers on a bird omitted on a real analog ink wash rendition than a perfect digital reproduction no matter how much attention to detail was involved! ;)

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I love that you asked this as I have thought much about this exact thing,especially regarding my wood carving friend
.I would be willing to bet that people think he is slaving away with a knife when in fact he uses a Dremel tool to make “quick” work of his carvings.
I don’t know if he tells people he uses a Dremel or not.
He still has skill,yet I would rather see a traditional knife carving.
That is just my personal preference.
I am a potter who makes most of my glazes but know many who use commercial products.
I also buy my own clay,rather than make my own blends.I use an electric potter’s wheel rather than a kick wheel I made myself.
I am also a painter who does not mix my own pigments.
I have a problem with people who try to present their work and methods as something that it’s not.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

As far as art goes I say there are always short cuts or mechanical means to get things done. When I was first introduced to airbrush I was working on a mural where my fellow artist were using it for the clouds and the wisp off the water falls. I was a student of creating every texture with the brush. There were textures that could only be done with an airbrush, plus it was quicker.

I know people who threw pots with a motorized potter’s wheel. I don’t see using a Dremel as disingenuous to carving, in many ways you can jack up your carving quicker and easier with a Dremel if you do not have complete control over the tool.

I think art wise I hold slightly less to digital drawing because that is more manipulation of the program than actual skill from the hand. Selecting parts of a scan etc, and just dropping in texture or color etc, is like using a program to write music as oppose to actually knowing the instrument and writing good melodies without the aid of the computer to double check you.

woodcutter's avatar

If I spent good money on a painting and later it was revealed it was done by turtles with paint brushes tied to their tails, I would be upset.

martianspringtime's avatar

I’d appreciate the effort the first artist put in more, but I would value the outcomes equally.
I think the result and the process should be considered separately.

A ‘modern’ painting that is just non-objective splatters can be just as aesthetically pleasing as a photorealistic portrait or scenery painting, but I would definitely consider the effort and skill of the artist who painted the second one superior to that of the first, even if I like them just the same.

If I had to choose between something that a lot of effort was put into or something that was just stamped, I would probably prefer the first, but if no one told me I’d likely be none the wiser, so it wouldn’t make a real difference.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Art is about the sharing of ideas from one mind to another. The medium or methodology used to achieve that purpose is secondary to the successful sharing of the idea.

The more popular the idea catches on, the more likely that reproductions of the representation will be stamped out by the millions.

The medium is not the message. Never ever.

Mariah's avatar

Thanks for your input and insights, everybody!

@Hypocrisy_Central Oof. I completely disagree on digital drawing. I’m biased as a digital artist. It is easier in many ways, but not necessarily the ways you described. I’m wondering if your statements about it come from personal experience or from assumptions? I think many people assume that the computer “does work for you” – really, it hardly does.

It is easier in the sense that you can completely erase or paint over, leaving no trace behind, anything you want to remove from your drawing. You can also hit “undo.”
It is easier in the sense that you can draw on “layers” – coloring in a shape without impacting the lines in any way, for instance.
It is easier in the sense that you can resize or rotate things after they’re drawn – shrinking an eye that looks out of proportion to the rest of the face, for example.
It is easier in the sense that you can easily pick out the exact shade of a color that you desire with no mixing of paints required.

In my eyes, that is where the advantages end, and they are hefty advantages to be sure, but I don’t think it means that the artist is significantly less skilled. I admit I find that when I am drawing a face on paper, I have a bit of trouble getting all the proportions right since I am used to being able to fix things like that after the fact. But let me list the things that you don’t have advantages on with digital art, that many assume you do:

The motion is the same: stylus on tablet is just like pencil to paper. Possibly even harder since you are not drawing on the same surface where the image is. The skill in the hand movements is 100% the same.
I never just “drop a texture” – I create my textures through the brush I choose to use, which is analogous to selecting a different paintbrush. I use a smaller brush for fine details and a larger brush for base colors as any artist would.
Shading works the same. Color with a darker color where shadows lie, brighter colors in the light. The computer does not create a light source for you or anything of that nature.
The smudge tool works like rubbing your finger to a canvas.
Etc. etc., feel free to ask more as I can’t possibly list all the ways in which digital drawing is like normal drawing.

It varies a lot from artist to artist – sure, some artists will find a texture online and plop it over their drawing – I consider that to be in very bad form as I agree that doing something like that is “cheating.” I never do that.

Maybe when I finish the drawing I’m currently working on, I can post it here and talk about the methodology I used. Would that interest anybody? I have always felt there are a lot of misconceptions about how digital art is created. It is a different experience than traditional art for sure, but in my eyes it is an equally valid experience.

Haleth's avatar

Good craftsmanship shows no matter what technique you use. Same with doing a half-assed job.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Mariah I’m biased as a digital artist. It is easier in many ways, but not necessarily the ways you described. I’m wondering if your statements about it come from personal experience or from assumptions? Let me say I believe there is a certain amount of skill that is used by digital artist. I am not trying to say they have no skill and that the computer does everything. I would highlight some of what you said, ”I have a bit of trouble getting all the proportions right since I am used to being able to fix things like that after the fact.” That was one of the major things I alluded to. When you are doing something by hand, you have less options of correcting it after the fact. You have to be correct before the ink hits the paper, or depending on the media, the brush meets the paper. If I am doing a piece of art, more than not, I have to be precise from the start because I can’t adjust or undo. That, to me, takes a certain level of talent. ”The motion is the same: stylus on tablet is just like pencil to paper. Possibly even harder since you are not drawing on the same surface where the image is. The skill in the hand movements is 100% the same.” I would say the motion might be, but the pressure would not be the same, at least not without a mouse click. I can take a ballpoint pen and shade something, I am not sure a program could replicate it. Or using the right touch dry brush to do a hawk’s beak.

”Maybe when I finish the drawing I’m currently working on, I can post it here and talk about the methodology I used. Would that interest anybody?” ME!!! ME!!! I would love to see it. I am interested to see what you are creating.

Mariah's avatar

Alright, I’ll concede that you are correct that the advantages to digital art do hamper an artist in some small ways. Such as the proportion thing. I will add though, that digital artists can keep this from happening by choosing to abstain from the use of certain tools. If I had slightly better self-discipline, what I could do is choose not to use the tools to correct my proportions after the fact, forcing myself to become more skilled at getting them right the first time. It’s all in the artist’s discretion. I choose to abstain from many of the program’s features that I consider “cheating” as I explained before; perhaps I should begin abstaining from even more.

You are not correct about pressure. The nib of the stylus is pressure sensitive. The nib contracts slightly with pressure, so the harder you push, the farther it contracts. The computer senses this, and when you push hard (and the nib contracts far) it draws a darker and/or thicker line, as would happen on paper.

Thanks for your interest! Once I finally get around to finishing what I’m working on, I’ll be sure to show it here and tell you in more detail about my methodology. :)

Nimis's avatar

I appreciate the time and effort that goes into a project.
Though you’ve also got to account for intent.

Depending on what you’re going for,
the jig-saw might actually be a better choice.

Mariah's avatar

Hey @Hypocrisy_Central, you’ve probably forgotten about this thread but I haven’t! I said I’d come back and post my latest project when I finished it, and I lost interest for a long time, but now I’ve finally finished it. It’s supposed to be me from my avatar photo and while I’m still no good at achieving a likeness, I’m just happy my drawings are starting to look human, because faces used to be something I just couldn’t draw at all, haha.

So shading in black and white can be done two ways that I can think of in Photoshop, one is to always use black “ink” and control the shade via pen pressure, and the other is to vary the shade of ink you’re using, ie. use a light gray or white ink where you want highlights and use dark gray or black where you want shadows. I almost always use the former method. You can tinker with your brush settings so that opacity varies with pen pressure. Opacity is a measure of how transparent your ink is. 100% opacity is solid, opaque, 0% is invisible ink, anything in between is ink you can see through, so when you’re using black ink on a white background, using varying opacities results in various shades of gray. Opacity is dictated by pen pressure, so it models “real” drawing very well: the harder you push, the darker your strokes. To me, this method is reminiscent of doing a pencil drawing in which you shade by building up layers and controlling your pressure. The other method could be compared with painting where you might mix white and black together in various proportions to create different intermediate shades of gray.

I try and limit myself to the brush tool, the eraser tool, and the smudge tool. The smudge tool is like rubbing your finger or a tortillon on your paper. I think the main luxury of digital art that I do use is layers. So for instance, I drew my original sketch on one layer, started a new layer for my shading, and when I was done I could simply hide the layer my sketch was on so that it would not be visible in the final product. I also started a new layer when I started drawing in the hair and eyelashes, so that if I screwed up I could get rid of them without affecting any part of the face that they may overlap. That’s a bit of a crutch for me, I find I often have trouble working up the courage, when I’m drawing on paper, to draw in hair or eyelashes, knowing that a screwup could ruin the whole thing. I could probably break myself of this habit by forcing myself to only use one layer in my drawings, which would probably benefit me.

Anyways, this is long-winded enough, but do let me know if you have any questions about digital art.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Mariah Hey @Hypocrisy_Central, you’ve probably forgotten about this thread but I haven’t! I have certainly not forgotten either. In fact after I get done tinkering with Ableton, I was going to try to see if the cracked version of Adobe CS5 I downloaded through bit torrent would work, and see if I can figure it out, or get it to work for me.

This question in part, inspired this question I posed and the research behind it.

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